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Recovering Fundamentalist


pkkontario
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Hi everyone,

 

My name is Peter. I am British by birth and Canadian by choice. I currently live an hours drive north-east of Toronto in the beautiful Kawartha Lakes district. As the subject line states, I am a recovering fundamentalist.

 

I became "born again" at the age of forty seven (I am now fifty nine) and joined a large Pentecostal church. As Pentecostalism goes it was quite conservative in terms of worship; no rolling in the aisles or swinging from the chandeliers! Once there, I threw myself into ministry. I led the Alhpa Course, coordinated small group mininstries, and taught apologetics to youth, ages fifteen to eighteen. I also put on workshops from time to time for adults, mostly in the fields of apologetics and evangelism - yes, I was in deep!

 

I was taught (and believed in) the inerrancy of the Bible. My ongoing research with regard to the field of apologetics, however, led me to non-theological scholars who posed extremely difficult questions that eventually led me to the conclusion that the Bible is actually rife with errors, contradictions, chronological problems, etc. I still value the Bible, but now I am much more analytical and non-legalistic in my approach to it. This epiphany added to my growing dissatisfaction with "church" and the way it focussed more on self-service than serving the needy in our local community. The rift in ideology was felt by others in leadership (volunteer, not paid) and eventually we decided to leave the institutional church and form a house church. The book Pagan Christianity, written by Frank Viola and George Barna, played a part in this process, although their idea of evangelical house church is probably quite removed from the way we practise it two years on.

 

We are non-denominational, we operate without an official creed, and we are continuously growing in our relationship with God. We have joined in ministry with a local Anglican church whose members (some of them, anyway) passionately serve the needy and the homeless in our community. We have an entirely open worship and study format where opinions are articulated without argument - we can choose to offer alternative views without having a concensus on which (if any) is correct. Does this make us Progressive Christians?

 

I apologize for the length of this introduction, but it seems difficult to condense it any further if I truly want other users of the forum to know what "makes me tick."

 

Anyway, all that remains is to say thanks for taking the time to read it (assuming you still are). I look forward to posting and hearing from you.

 

Peter.

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Welcome to the board, Peter! You have an interesting story.

 

I am just now moving out of Evangelicalism, myself, but wasn't in nearly as deeply as you seem to have been.

 

I've only been on this board for a short time, but I think you will find the discussions interesting. Glad to have you join us!

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Welcome to the forums, Peter. I really like the sound of your house church. I don't know if that makes you all 'progressive Christians' - since that's a label that would be your choice to adopt - but it certainly sounds like you fit in well here.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Welcome to the board, Peter! You have an interesting story.

 

I am just now moving out of Evangelicalism, myself, but wasn't in nearly as deeply as you seem to have been.

 

Hi Marsha,

 

Thank you for your reply to my post. I couldn't help but notice your use of the present tense in the above quotation.

 

This process of "moving out of Evangelicalsm" is a very difficult one. Leaving a faith structure that is constructed with absolutes is a stressful (perhaps for some, terrifying) journey. Within our house church we are at different points on this path. A couple of us are now confirmed deists* while the rest of us remain theists. Some of us remain Trinitarian while others are undecided or Unitarian. To the evangelical constituency we would all, I suspect, be heretics. This is a situation that troubled me as my faith began to evolve, but it is one that I now regard as somewhat of a compliment. I'll try to briefly explain what I mean (although brevity isn't one of my stronger attributes).

 

Over the past two years I have come to understand that I was very legalistic in my approach to faith; It was the evangelical way or the highway! I was so sure of the Bible's inerrancy that I believed that all questions had their answer there, no matter how far it stretched logic or credibility to swallow them. For example, the confusion of the birth narratives or the parallel (and differing) accounts of creation in Genesis, were not really a problem, it's just a matter of us finding a way to reconcile them. It seemed that however flimsy that reconcilliation was constructed, I accepted it because it had to be right. I basically checked my brain at the door.

 

Two influential scholars in my expanding spiritual horizons were Bishop John Shelby Spong (theology) and Professor Bart D. Ehrman (textual criticism). They opened my eyes to possibilities, not to absolutely correct interpretations. I learned that it is acceptable to question! Now I not only research but I research the researchers because no one has all the answers! As I often remind my grandchildren, the smartest person is the one with the most questions, not the one with the most answers.

 

Having said all this, I truly have a heart for those who are considering leaving the Evangelical fold. It is very frightening to discard the cocoon of perceived certainty on all matters of faith, and find out that there are many other views of how we can structure our faith and build our relationship with God. I have actually thought of forming a support group, locally, perhaps even an online support forum where ex-evangelicals can share their stories and help each other come to terms with their new life. Do you think that this type of vehicle would help you, personally? Would you be willing to assist others with you own personal experiences?

 

I truly value your input and look forward to your reply.

 

Peter.

 

 

* 1. DEISM: belief in the existence of a god on the evidence of reason and nature only, with rejection of supernatural revelation ( distinguished from theism).

2. belief in a God who created the world but has since remained indifferent to it.

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